Posts Tagged ‘Organic Master Gardening’

Sunday, January 29, 2011

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  The past few days have been kind of busy.  On Friday we actually experienced some bright sunshine.  I discovered this once I’d arrived at Swan Lake and was so happy to see the blue of the overhead skies and the wonderful changing cloud patterns.  Very uplifting after a few days of wind and rain.

Noticed that the Mallards are keeping a low profile this year.  Usually they throng  at the ponds, but I notice that they are keeping a low profile.  Thus far, anyway.

Stepped onto the boardwalk at the small observatory … couldn’t see any bird activity … except for one little female Mallard who suddenly appeared at the far end … and when she saw me, she started to make her way over.  So sweet.  I unzipped my back pack, removed the Ziploc bag of flatted oats and slowly approached her, scattering the flatted oats onto the surface of the boards for her.

I’d spoken with a Naturalist last year about feeding the wild birds there .. she condones it at the boardwalk, as the kids love it and doesn’t like it as a general rule though.  So I respect this and only feed the ducks at the observatories.  And nevermore at Tuesday Pond .. as the Geese can be very aggressive and I just want to enjoy the tranquility of nature there.  Although there are some Mallard Drakes who approach my vicinity and look up … waiting for treats.  Not there, though.

Saw some Common Mergansers over by the short observatory .. don’t remember seeing them before.  Last year I was lucky enough to see a couple of Cinnamon Teals at Tuesday Pond.

I walked at a leisurely pace around the Sanctuary … enjoying spotting little groups of Mallards tucked away in marshy side ponds.

Spoke with some birders along the way .. discovered that the wren groupings had been updated to reflect “Pacific Wrens” .. interesting.   Walking on .. I happened to catch a glimpse of a Great Blue Heron .. standing ever so quietly in a side marsh … he wasn’t easy to see and I had to strain my eyes to make sure that he was even there, so perfectly did he blend in with the nearby trees and grasses.  Stopped to take some photos, and then he bounded into the sky.  To seek more privacy.  Sorry about that ..GBH!

Nearing the floating boardwalk, I looked up and saw an eagle swooping low .. so I sped up my steps and soon was on the walkway … binoculars aimed skyward.   There they were .. the local couple, snow-white head and tails clearly evident.  Seagulls flying in the same thermals …. these regal birds weren’t hungry .. just going for a little flight.

Watched for a while  .. till they gracefully flew out of sight.    Cast some flatted oats out to the few Mallards who happened to be there.

Regretfully started the trek towards my car ..lots to do at home and it’s time to get going.   I felt very energized with my little walkabout at the Sanctuary.   Breathing in the fresh air, enjoying the beauty of the trees, bushes, plants and wildlife that exist in this treasured pocket of paradise.

Once back home, I had every intention of spending hours going through my course information on gardening.  However, my study habits weren’t up to par and instead I found myself doing household chores that “needed” to be done.  This and that .. till finally, I made myself sit down at the kitchen table.  Open the books .. and started reading, making notes, repeating .. trying to comprehend the vast amount of information that needed to reside in my head .. before next class.

Then later that evening, DH & I headed to the Imax .. to see “Tornado Alley” and what made that so special was that Sean Casey, the filmmaker …. was going to speak after the film!  This film had been 8 years in the making .. that is dedication.   The film was fantastic .. my favourite was the part where he was in his famous storm watching vehicle, the turret was open, his helmeted head was being pounded from the heavy rains as the tornado passed through.  The powerful force of the winds emitted the most unearthly sound of wild and crazy screams … it was like the forces were verbalizing their power.


We were fortunate, after the film, to spend several minutes chatting with him.   What would it be like to have the opportunity to spend a few hours with him, talking about weather.  A heaven-sent chance.  Hmmm …. I wonder if we could somehow manage that?  Worth a try, I think.

I read in Saturday’s paper that the storm vehicle, which was parked outside the museum, would be gone mid-morning.   Since we hadn’t brought the camera last night (what was I thinking, I usually don’t go anywhere without it!!) .. I thought that I would surprise DH with some photos.

Soon I was on my way and lucky enough to find a parking space which was free for the next 30 minutes!  Parked and ran out to the storm vehicle .. no one else there … so I spent quite a few minutes walking around,  clicking away.  Took so many photos that I nearly depleted the fully charged camera!   As I touched the various sections of solid metal I felt a vicarious thrill at being so physically close to this mighty machine that had been driven so  many miles searching for tornadoes.  That is the closest I’ll ever get to something like that (fingers crossed, anyway, I wouldn’t wish to be in the proximity of such weather).

Ok .. back home .. more time spent avoiding studying!  At one point, I’d been holding little Jane E at a front window .. when .. suddenly .. I saw a bald-headed eagle swooping low across the road.   Quickly … grabbed camera, threw on some shoes and I was outside …. looking for the eagle!   Was able to film him sitting atop a nearby tree .. and then he swooped away.

Followed him down the road .. and I could see that he’d been aiming towards a group of seagulls that were feasting, along with some ravens and crows .. on the remnants of some takeout food that was left on a side road.   The eagle then had flown onto a tree across the highway, on the outskirts of Swan Lake .. and then he flew away to hunt somewhere else.  The ravens left and soon the roads were quite quiet .. even those noisy crows had departed.

Then .. I buckled down to study.  For the next few hours, I read, made notes, read again.  Went through a quiz.  Wondered how on earth I was going to comprehend this new information on Super Kingdoms, Domains, Kingdoms, bacteria, fungi, fungi, protista, Animalia, Plantae … words that up to now were not in my vocabulary.

As the hours sped by, I found myself in a very relaxed state of learning.  And quite enjoyed this experience.   Slowly, the new vocabulary started to make sense.  I was getting glimmers of understanding the basics of the  unseen world that had been discussed at our last class.   And how exciting it all is.

This new discipline of working hard at learning is quite enjoyable.   I feel myself enjoying the discipline of studying .. even though it is a struggle, I know that before too long, the osmosis will have happened.  And I’ll keep on studying and working hard at learning the new material.  There are a number of lessons left.  And then I plan to write the examination for certification.  Lofty goals for now, though .. but goals they are.

And I plan to revisit the information that was taught at ground school last summer.  Studying weather and aviation with more discipline.  And perhaps I’ll continue with more dual flight instruction with my most wonderful instructor, Kristen!  I’m finding that I am quite enjoying this energizing power of learning.  It is a very satisfying sensation to go beyond the bounds of everyday living and enter these new rooms of knowledge.

New worlds … full of the most fascinating information.


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Friday, January 20, 2011

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 The heavy snowfall has been challenging for the surrounding area.  I for one, am not venturing out except by foot and only that when necessary.

Except for spending hour upon hour, standing outside in the back yard, ensuring that the bird feeders are kept  full.  And defrosting the hummingbird feeders.  Oh, and making sure that the European Starlings stay away from the suet long enough to allow the smaller birds a chance to feast away.

I replaced two of the feeders with suet blocks and placed the fat in the trees (tightly squeezed between some branches) and the birds have liked that.

The first heavy day of snow was just amazing.  I’d stand out there just making sure that there was a plenty supply of food for our feathered friends.   There was a lively mixture of Fox Sparrows (all sizes) and I counted at least 5 Spotted Towhees!  Usually I only see one or two!  Robins, Chestnut-Backed Chickadees, Mr & Mrs. Red-Breasted Nuthatches.  Darling little Bush-tits.  White & Gold Crowned Sparrows.  Regular Sparrows.

Yesterday morning I was looking out the basement window and saw a Flicker, nestled on the gravel and pecking away at the ground …. he was surrounded by other smaller birds and must have been there for quite awhile before I noticed him.

The freezing rains are expected soon and that will be followed by days of rain, so soon this snow will just be a memory.

I finally finished entering my gardening books … and am sure that I’ll still find a few more, tucked away here and there.   My current count is at 214 books .. which does include a few little booklets and my 1975 copy of Organic Gardening. I did have quite a collection of these treasures but got rid of all but this one, during some decluttering sessions.

This one is a treasure, it contains easy instructions for making a chicken wire compost box.   And simple pruning helpers .. such as:  placing a ladder against the tree .. prune to the right when climbing up the ladder and to the left when descending.  Easy pease.

These smaller format OG publications were absolute treasures.

And I also found, as I looked through my treasury of books, that many books contained the same information, worded in various ways.

Scary to read about pesticides used so freely, in the older books.  It was just taken for granted to use them.   shudder.

Interesting to see the breadth of mulching uses, the many ways of propagating. I have much personal knowledge of gardening and it’s always a joy to learn more and more.

So I’ll work away at my book listing, sorting by title for one version, and by author in another.  I did find that I had duplicates of some books .. they are absolute gems, so that explains why I bought them .. at different times, of course.  I’ll carry this list with me now, for future reference so I won’t make that mistake again.

I was so looking forward to the first classes of the Organic Master Gardening course, but the snow put an end to those two classes .. so we’ll start again next week.  This gives me a bit more time to do some reading and organize materials that I’ll bring with me.  So excited about learning more, meeting like-minded gardeners and just plain talking about gardening for hours upon hours!

Well, this has certainly been a relaxing week.  Not able to do any gardening due to the snow.  Fingers, eyes and toes crossed that all the plants will survive.   And I had been quite proud of the scented geraniums that had been growing stoically despite the frosts.

On with this day and all the fun things that it will bring.


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